Industry Fails To Produce Hot Toy; Parents Sigh In Relief

Every year the evil sorcerers who run the toy industry seem to manage to conjure a must-have toy during the holidays that’s in short supply — think Zhu Zhu Pets or Tickle Me Elmo. Since there’s no such toy this year, there appears to be no Hunger Games-style competition in which parents are forced to out-scheme and maul one another to bring home the preordained prize.

The New York Times identifies this instance in which the lack of news becomes news. Parent surveys, a Target spokesperson and an industry analyst all agree that there’s no toy out there producing the frenzied traffic that parents despise and retailers adore.

The retail market has de-emphasized the toy industry as a whole, with imports dropping nearly 10 percent in August and September from those months in 2010. Christmas shopping for little ones is never easy, but the lack of a must-buy prize makes this year’s ordeal easier less painful than most.

No Hit Toy to Brighten Retailers’ Christmas [The New York Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    I’m not terribly surprised. It seems like electronics, apps, and media are usurping the traditional toy market. The trend seems to be impacting younger and younger children.

    • ablestmage says:

      Leapfrog/Leappads are in Tickle-Me-Elmo style demand here, and people are waiting outside stores at 6am to get in line to see if any came in, and calling way beyond normal open hours to check if there are any in stock yet.

  2. angelv2003 says:

    But what about the dancing and singing mickey mouse doll..

    Must Have Item this year–Bills Paid

  3. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I’ve been wondering if there was one b/c I hadn’t heard about one yet. That’s a fad I refuse to get pulled in to. It’s pretty irrational to pay $100 for a robotic hamster with wheels or $300 for a laughing Elmo doll. Kids aren’t as disappointed as adults would like to believe when they get something else. I always told my kid that lots of times, Santa only has so many to go around, and if he didn’t bring her the hot toy she wanted, we could get one after Christmas. After Christmas, she never even wanted whatever it was anymore. But, the stores are usually flooded with the it gift within a week or two after.

    • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:


    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      My oldest daughter turned 1 right when Tickle Me Elmo came out. My MIL bought it for her birthday (in October) and by the end of November everyone was crazy for them. Consequently, my daughter hated it and I wish I could have sold it on Ebay but original packaging was gone. Pretty sure it got donated to Goodwill a year or two later.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      Tell her Santa has a herniated disk and he’ll get her twice next year. Rinse repeat.

  4. humphrmi says:

    > The New York Times identifies this instance in which the lack of news becomes news.

    So now I can say this and actually be on topic:

    Slow news day?

  5. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    However, it should be noted that children’s Christmas greed is still running at maximum overdrive this year, much like in past years.


  6. RayAllDay says:

    it’s the leap pad this year. probably because kids ask for iPads. maybe not as frantic as some previous years, but still scarce with demand seeming to outpace supply.

  7. Rachacha says:

    For my kids 10 (boy) and 8 (girl) it is lego sets, doll clothes, Goosebumps & Diary of a Wimpy Kids books, and the Nintendo 3DS. They would also want an iPhone, but mom & dad are not ready for that yet, so they will have to make due with our old de-activated iPhone 3G operating as an iPod touch.

    • 8bithero says:

      Same here. Two boys (6 and 8). 3DS, Skylanders, and LEGO.

      The 8 year old wanted an iPod. Not happening.

      I don’t even own an iPod.

  8. simonvii says:

    As a parent, I don’t know that I agree with this. Every time I go to the store I look for the LeapPad, for example, and there are at least two other couples already there staring at the empty spot on the shelf where they’re supposed to be stocked. Unless you want to buy them online at jacked up prices, you can’t find the things.

    • sponica says:

      I worked at a toy store 10 years ago, and that’s ALWAYS been the case with the Leap Pad around Christmas time

  9. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Alf pogs – hot toy item 2012

  10. simonvii says:

    “In December Wal-Mart has had 12 of the most popular toys in stock less than 40 percent of the time, while Target had them on shelves 50 percent of the time, and Toys ‘R’ Us had them in stock about 60 percent of the time.”

    Shoppers aren’t stupid. When you realize what you want isn’t going to be on the shelf, you stop trying. If they want more people to buy more toys, maybe they should stock what people are looking for more often.

  11. GoldVRod says:

    Speaking as a parent, child, mother, sister, uncle, brother, cousin and grandmother I have decided my kids are going to get one less slap across the face this year. Happy Christmas you little shits!

    • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

      Dad? DAD? Why are you drinking so early in the morning again? You promised, for Christmas!

      • Applekid ‚îÄ‚îÄ‚î¨ Ôªø„Éé( „Çú-„Çú„Éé) says:

        Technically, my being drunk in the morning is a holdover from not burning it off the night before.

  12. VectorVictor says:

    Don’t agree with this at all–the new LeapPad Tablet is sold out everywhere, and the housefraus are going ballistic whenever it’s in stock. Plus, new, in-box of this item sells for double it’s value on EBay.

    It may be a tad under the radar because it doesn’t have a name brand that people are overly familiar with and because the device is possibly too complicated for said housefraus, but it’s selling like hotcakes people are going crazy for it.

    • Spaceman Bill Leah says:

      The SpaceHusband told me this and threatened to unwrap and sell the one currently under the tree from the Grandparents. I briefly considered it.

    • framitz says:

      We found the LeapFrog tablet for my grandson, the last one in stock. We bought even though it’s purple.

      Yep very, very popular.

  13. paullorange says:

    The Kinect?

    • Jevia says:

      That was last years Christmas gift to the kids.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      I work at a game store and I’ve sold maybe one of those this season. It could be more popular elsewhere, though.

      • paullorange says:

        i have had trouble finding one for a friend, (I got mine last year) I finally broke down and called microsoft and ordered it from them.

        • 8bithero says:

          It might be because nobody really wants it so stores aren’t bothering to stock them to sell. For everyone on their shelf that goes unsold, they lose money.

          The whole motion gaming trend is long over.

  14. chiieddy says:

    I have a friend who’s going nuts trying to find this for her kid at retail. Apparently, it’s being jacked up in price by eBay sellers and there is limited inventory. My understanding is the item is $30 – 35 retail and is selling for over $60 on Amazon.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      My daughter got that for her b-day two months ago and they were plentyful. Things like that is why I always buy the must haves well before Thanksgiving.

      • chiieddy says:

        My mom did that when I was a kid. I have a September birthday and she and her friend bought me my Cabbage Patch Kid in July, knowing they were going to be scarce when the fad caught on. I was one of the only kids who had one and I got it BEFORE Christmas.

  15. Torchwood says:

    How about a roll of bubble wrap? Only $12, provides hours of fun, and can be recycled. I would also recommend spending an additional $10 for bulk ear plugs.

  16. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    That’s because the hot toy already exists. Me.

    • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

      I’m gonna have to cut a lot of bitches this year to keep you mine :(

  17. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    I guess I’ll just have to steal my own toy to make it “Hot” for this year.

  18. Cat says:

    No shortage of Shiny Things for the kittens to play with.

  19. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    as a former toy store employee, i think this year’s toy store employees will be grateful for the lack of slapping, arm pulling and nightmares

  20. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    I’ve toyed with the idea of trying to snag a few ‘hot’ items one of these years, and then sell them for far more than I paid. Knowing my luck, I’d be stuck with them!

    • Rachacha says:

      We have only done this once, when the Wii came out.

      We happened to be in NYC at the Nintendo Store and saw a large line forming and noticed the store had just brought out a large shippment. We knew that a friend was also looking for a Wii, but she was not answering any of her phones, so we took a chance, purchased one for us, and one for her. Unfortunately, she had already purchased one, so we threw the spare up on eBay. It sold for about $50 over what we paid for it.

  21. ohhhh says:

    Just try to buy a Leappad Explorer, the stores are receiving them 2 at a time and they are sold out online instantly. I sold 2 on ebay a few weeks ago and almost doubled what I payed for them.

    • Riroon13 says:

      Ah, so you’re the entrepreneur/douche that doesn’t care if a child gets a toy; you’d rather create an artificial supply/demand curve for no other reason than to line your own pockets. Nice, especially in a recession to let parents know they have to scrape double for their child. Pay the douchebag double or watch your child cry on Christmas morn.

      Thanks for letting us all know. Stay classy.

      • aloria says:

        I agree that hoarding hot items for the sole purpose of selling them for a profit on eBay is a dick move. However, if your kid has such a problem handling disappointment that he/she actually starts to cry Xmas morning, then you either need to manage expectations better or tell your kids “no” more often.

    • 8bithero says:

      People like you create a manufactured scarcity. People see these things going for sale online for double the MSRP and assume they are hot items.

      You are a terrible human being and I wish nothing but the worst things to happen to you.

  22. Daggertrout says:

    When I was a kid, we got a plank with three rusty nails in it and we LIKED IT.

  23. Jedana says:

    I don’t know. Around here, Ninjago Legos and Beyblades are the boys choices–and it is almost impossible to find the Ice Dragon! Also, the Skylanders Whirlwind (only from Target) is out of stock everywhere here.

  24. Jedana says:

    Remember the Barbie Airplane? Remember how hot of a toy that was? Our daughter asked for it the year it came out–and that was the only thing she wanted.

    My husband and I do. We lived in a tiny, podunk town in Nevada, that boasted a Walmart and a Kmart–and neither one had them in stock. We searched the large towns 4 hours away–still no sign of the airplane. (You know daddies and their daughters–he couldn’t say no to her, or tell her Santa couldn’t find one. /rolleyes)

    We had people in 8 states–people that knew people we knew, whom we did not know–searching for this. Someone found it on the east coast, and so $100 later (the plane, shipping and a thank you gift card to the anonymous person), she had her plane.

    I have never done that since–that was way way too much hassle.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      too bad she wasn’t a wonder woman fan. invisible jets are a lot easier to pretend you got when they aren’t really there

  25. TerpBE says:

    As others have said above, it’s the LeapPad. When Toys R Us sends out an email to all of their customers that there will be a limited supply available at stores at 6AM, you know it’s in high demand.

  26. twoback says:

    That’s be cause according to the “industry” kids are done with toys. They all want ipads this year. Take that for whatever you want.

  27. Fumanchu says:

    When i have kids, if they want something like zhu zhu pets or furbies or tickle me elmos they arent’ getting it that year that its hot. If they really want it and not just becuase everyone else has one then they can get it maybe the year after that. Just wait 3 years on these things, you can get them for pennies on the dollar by then typically.

    Also, kids here that everyone has them and think they must be super amazing but I have found that when kids get these types of toys they play with them for about 2-3 hours and never touch them again. What makes them cool is typically somethign they uniquely do that isn’t very deep and gets old and loses its wow factor quickly.

  28. dourdan says:

    Disney Universe on Wii, Ps3 or Xbox is going for as much or more then in the store price on ebay. and when i tried to look for it instores it was missing as several best buy locations.

    i am declaring disney universe to be the “hot toy” of 2011. I saw it reviewed/advertized in several parent relaed magzines so i am at least a little sure that it is why it’s flying off the sheves this december

  29. Blitzgal says:

    This will be news to my co-worker who’s been frantically trying to get the LeapPad for her daughter this year. It can’t be purchased online via the LeapFrog store, sellers on Amazon and eBay have jacked up the price to $200 or more, and every store she calls tells her that she has to plant herself there the moment the truck arrives because they’re sold out instantly.

    I know this is an electronic device rather than a “toy,” but it’s no less frustrating to the parents trying to get one. My niece is getting Tag books. Those are much easier to come by.

  30. MPD01605 says:

    Anybody else want to watch Jingle All The Way now?

  31. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    Hitachi Magic Wand so I’m told…

  32. LooseLips says:

    I think the hot toy should be a ball gag for the kids.

  33. bwcbwc says:

    I thought Minecraft was the hot toy this year…

  34. Vielle84 says:

    There’s always Doggie Doo. :3

  35. sendbillmoney says:

    I just have to say, in all seriousness: I liked this title.

  36. 10-cent-sucker says:

    I took a college class of Public Persuasion, tricks used to trick consumers, and one thing that retailers do at Christmas is limit the amount of the “hot toy”. Parents, not wanting to disappoint their child, will buy other toys to replace the “hot toy” and promise to get it when the store gets more in. Miraculously, an unlimited amount of the hot toy appear right after the holidays and the parents buy the child one. So in the end the store still sells the parents the toy they wanted originally, plus extra toys they bought out of guilt. The magic of Christmas.